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Can You Sell Your Used Car to a Dealership?

If for whatever reason you don’t want to trade in your car, selling a used car to a private party requires some time and effort. We get that some people may not want to spend the time it takes to advertise the car, meet with potential buyers, and wait as a committed buyer tries to secure financing. One way of cutting through the hassle of selling a used car to a private party would be to sell it to a dealer instead. The question, though, is will a dealer work with you on your used vehicle if you aren’t trading it in? Here’s the answer…

Will a Dealer Buy Your Car?

Typically, many dealerships will be interested in buying your used car regardless of condition, mileage or other factors. Some large dealership chains, such as CarMax, have a policy to buy any vehicle you’re willing to sell, while others work with Autotrader.com to make an offer on any vehicle, even if you’re not buying anything in return. Before you head down to your local dealer to sell your car, we have a few pointers. Find a used car for sale near you

What Car Do You Have?

Before you ask a dealership to buy your car, consider what type of car you have. If it’s an older model with a lot of imperfections — issues such as parts that aren’t working, bad tires, or cosmetic issues like dents and scratches — you might have trouble getting an offer from many new-car dealerships. We suggest that you avoid taking your old, beat-up car to a Lexus dealership, for example, and asking them to make you an offer.

Instead, look up the trade-in value of your car on Kelley Blue Book (KBB). Armed with that figure, visit a dealership that might be interested in selling your particular vehicle. Be realistic about the condition once the dealer looks over the car. Remember, you’ll probably have very little negotiating power in this situation because you aren’t trading in your car for a new one.

What Dealership Should You Go To?

We strongly suggest that you choose a dealership specifically based on the condition and manufacturer of your car. You’ll want to find the dealership that’s the most interested in selling it because they’re likely to give you the most money for it.

You should first go to a dealership that sells your brand of vehicle. For instance, if you’re trying to sell a 2006 BMW, take it to a BMW dealer to see what they offer you. If you don’t like the offer, try a different BMW dealer before going to an off-brand dealership.

If your car is a little older, you might want to try to visit a dealer that specializes in used cars. For example, a 1990s Ford is likely of little value to a Ford dealership, which primarily wants to sell new and recent Ford models. It might be desirable to a used-car specialist, which mainly sells inexpensive used vehicles and doesn’t focus on one brand.

Autotrader Shortcut

Even less hassle is involved in using our KBB Instant Cash Offer. You simply provide your car’s vital information, such as year, make and model, along with an accurate description of its condition. Based on KBB’s valuation, Autotrader will issue you an Instant Cash Offer Certificate, redeemable at any of the car dealerships provided with the Certificate. Upon presenting your car and Offer Certificate at any of the qualified dealerships, the dealer will inspect your vehicle. If it lives up to your description, you can sell it on the spot for the Instant Offer amount. If your vehicle isn’t as good as described, the dealer will adjust the offer. You can either accept the deal or walk away. Offer Certificates are good for three days from issue. Selling your car doesn’t get much easier than that.

Our Take

If you’re not trading in your used car and want to avoid all the issues involved with selling to a private party, selling to a dealership is the best remaining option. Once you secure a ballpark value from KBB, Autotrader.com/instant-cash-offer can help you get started. Simply clicking on “Get an Offer” is the first step on a low-effort path to cashing in on your used car’s value.

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Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.

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